The NFL will expand its playoff field from 12 to 14 teams beginning in 2020, the league announced after the owners voted on Tuesday. The league noted that playoff expansion was addressed in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Two additional Wild Card teams – one from each conference — will now make the playoffs.
How it works
- Only the No. 1 seed in each conference will receive a bye in the Wild Card round.
- The remaining division champions in each conference with the best records will be seeded 2, 3, and 4, followed by the next three teams per conference with the best records seeded 5, 6, and 7.
- AFC and NFC Wild Card games will feature the 2 seed hosting the 7 seed, the 3 seed hosting the 6 seed and the 4 seed hosting the 5 seed.
- Wild Card Weekend for the 2020 season will consist of three games on Saturday, January 9, and three games on Sunday, January 10.
What it means for the Chiefs
If the new playoff system had been in place last year, the Chiefs would have had to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wild Card weekend, then played the second-lowest remaining seed between Patriots-Titans and Texans-Bills. In a new system, had the Chiefs won, they would have played the Texans in the Divisional Round and the winner of Titans-Ravens in the AFC championship.
From a Chiefs’ fan perspective, you may look at the system and say, “Well this year, we wouldn’t have had a bye.” And while that is true, I think there is the reality that even with Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs won’t always be 12-4 or 13-3. There will be years when the Chiefs won’t have a top-two record in the AFC. And when those years come, there is now a greater chance Mahomes and company are in the dance. Based upon the first three seasons of Mahomes, I like those odds.
From a general NFL fan’s perspective, this means another two games of do-or-die football in the playoffs. Some may be upset about another playoff team diluting the regular season, but with only one bye to go around in each conference, that makes the regular season all the more important.